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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Vovehals

If you're someone who is a bit of a daredevil and doesn't always live by the rules, you'll soon find yourself acquainted with this Danish term.

What is vovehals?

Literally translated, a vovehals is a ‘dare-throat’, the word taking the verb ‘to dare’ (at vove) and throat (hals) and putting them together. The best English equivalent is probably daredevil, or someone prepared to take (sometimes unnecessary) risks. 

You might use the word for someone who likes to take risks to show how daring they are — by jumping from the highest springboard at a swimming pool even though they can’t dive, for example.

However, vovehals can also refer to someone who takes a step into the unknown and starts that business they’ve always dreamed of. As such, the term can be used both in admiration and derision, though the latter is arguably the more common. 

Why do I need to know vovehals

It’s easy to think of Danes as being a pragmatic nation of people who don’t take risks often, and that is perhaps reflected in the use of vovehals as well as an adjective, dumdristig (literally, “stupid-brave”) to describe excessive risk taking. There are several other synonyms for vovehals, too: you might also hear chancerytter (literally, “chance-jockey”) and the loan word desperado.

All of these words can be used to describe someone who is liable to throw themselves with abandon into life-threatening or dangerous, or merely risky, situations.

Incidentally, Danish also has a colourful antonym for vovehals: bangebuks (literally a “scared trouser”) is someone who is a coward or without courage.

Examples

Maverick var kendt som en værre vovehals, men så lærte han at styre sine impulser og blev en bedre pilot.

Maverick was known as a serious daredevil, but he learned to control his impulses and became a better pilot.

En vovehals blev meldt til politiet af flere bilister onsdag eftermiddag efter han kravlede til tops på Storebæltsbroen.

A daredevil was reported to police by several motorists on Wednesday afternoon when he climbed to the top of the Great Belt Bridge.

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Overordnet

We'll try to give you an overarching explanation of today's word of the day.

Danish word of the day: Overordnet

What is overordnet?

While we covered the meaning of over previously (spoiler: it means “over”), you’ll also need the translation of the verb at ordne to get a sense of how to use overordnet.

Because it has its roots in Latin, at ordne (from the Latin “ordinare”) is easy enough to understand for an English speaker. When used in Danish, it signifies to sort, place in a correct order, tidy or fix something. It can also mean to take care of a problem, conflict or situation: Lejligheden sejlede da jeg kom hjem, så jeg ordnede den lige hurtigt (“the apartment was a mess when I came home, so I gave it a quick sort-out”).

Getting back to overordnet, which is an adjective in the form of a past-tense verb, the prefix suggests something ahead in a certain order. In other words, overordnet can be someone of a higher rank, such as in the military or at a work place.

It can also mean a higher meaning or context, similar to how you might use “overall” in English — an overordnet strategi, for example, can be a company’s long-term business model, around which it builds its more immediate aims.

Why do I need to know overordnet?

While it’s a good example of an adjective that is formed from a rarely-used verb (at overordne), it’s also a word that will help you to convey nuance and give sentences in spoken Danish a sense of articulacy (provided you don’t overuse it, then you might end up sounding like a proponent of ‘management speak‘).

You can some up your thoughts on a certain subject by saying overordnet set (approximately, “generally speaking”) or say that you have been thinking up an overordnet plan (“overall plan”).

Like all good “over” words, overordnet has and “under”-based antonym. Underordnet is an even more expressive word than its superior (in a literal sense) opposite, and is usually used to dismiss something as irrelevant: det er underordnet, om det tager fem minutter eller en time, bare jeg får tid til en gåtur hver dag (“it doesn’t matter whether it takes five minutes or an hour, as long as I get a chance to take a walk every day”).

Examples

Jeg forstår ikke, den overordnede betydning med universet.

I don’t understand the overall meaning of the universe.

Jeg kan desværre ikke svare på dit spørgsmål, inden jeg har talt med min overordnede.

I’m afraid I can’t answer your question until I’ve spoken with my superior.

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